Note from the SNEWS Editors: As longtime supporters of a number of outdoor nonprofits, we welcome the first of a recurring series of pieces from the Conservation Alliance. We would like to give others in our industry who are fighting the good fight a platform as well. If your organization is interested in contributing, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With significant support from the outdoor industry, President Obama designated the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument on Oct. 10, permanently protecting 346,177 acres in Southern California’s Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. Fifteen million people in the greater Los Angeles area live within a 90-minute drive of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, making it one of the most accessible monuments in the country.
This monument designation follows a 14-year campaign lead by San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a coalition of residents, businesses, community leaders and conservation organizations. Congresswoman Judy Chu introduced legislation in June to establish the San Gabriel National Recreation Area, but that bill has become stuck in a Congress incapable of moving most legislation, no matter how broadly supported. By proclaiming the monument, President Obama demonstrated a willingness to protect places when Congress fails to act.
The Conservation Alliance twice funded California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), one of the organizations working on this campaign. Ryan Henson, senior policy director at CWC, said that in addition to helping to draft the boundaries of the monument, the organization “helped resolve the concerns of dozens of affected stakeholders, including utility companies, water agencies, local governments, and many, many others.” According to Henson, “This took many years of very intense work.” CWC’s work in this area is not finished, as they will continue to push for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic designations in the San Gabriel Mountains.
While CWC was on the ground building support for wilderness protection, companies in the outdoor industry were doing their part to demonstrate support for the permanent protection of the San Gabriels. Weeks prior to the designation, Gordon Seabury, CEO of Horny Toad, wrote an op-ed for the LA Business Journal where he urged the president to permanently protect the area. “I support a national monument designation for the public lands of the San Gabriel Mountains.,” wrote Seabury. “Such a designation could be a critical step toward achieving [Congresswoman] Chu’s broader vision for connecting the region to outdoor recreational opportunities.”
This designation is also important to the health of the outdoor recreation economy in California. In recent years, industry leaders have traveled to Washington, D.C. many times to deliver this message to key legislators. A study released by the Outdoor Industry Association shows that outdoor recreation in California generates $85.4 billion in direct consumer spending, and supports 732,100 direct jobs in the state.
“I have permanently protected three million acres of lands for future generations, and I am not finished,” said President Obama prior to signing the proclamation designating the monument. Obama has made it clear that he will continue to designate national monuments to protect areas proposed for protection by Congress, but where Congress fails to act. Here’s what you can do to help protect these wild places:
- Identify a conservation project in your area. Contact the local group working to protect it and ask them how you can do to help. Click here for a list of conservation projects
- Write an Op-Ed for your local paper about a project in your area, and why it’s important to protect it. If you work for an outdoor business, talk about how the protection of this area will be good for business and why it’s important to you personally.
- Become a member of The Conservation Alliance. The Conservation Alliance supports the best conservation projects in North America and has a proven track record of supporting projects that produce results.
--Josie Norris, program manager, The Conservation Alliance